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Roof Trusses: What You Need to Know


Complex vaulted ceilings are simple with trusses.
Complex vaulted ceilings are simple with trusses.

Choosing kitchen appliances, perusing lighting fixtures, and shopping for ceramic tile are only a few of the fun and creative activities you might enjoy in all the excitement of building a new home. Thus, the words “roof trusses” probably won’t conjure any spectacular images.


Builders receive exact alignment with trusses.
Builders receive exact alignment with trusses.

However, roof trusses do deserve careful consideration. In addition to the practical purposes they serve, such as reliably supporting your structure, roof trusses do allow for your creativity, and offer some surprising common-sense benefits, too.


You’ve probably already spent a great deal of time analyzing floor plans that suit your family—most people do. After choosing a plan, owners often request small changes that meet their family’s unique needs. For example, people often move interior walls during construction to make room for a special piece of furniture. Because trusses generally rest only on outside walls, they leave the inside free and clear to move walls to accommodate different room sizes—only trusses offer this kind of flexibility. As it’s hard to predict the family members who will come and go over the lifetime of your home, it’s satisfying to know your home will continue to offer this versatility — even decades after you’ve moved in.


Creative Living Spaces

In addition, you can use roof trusses to fashion some very unique spaces for your family. Whereas flat ceilings offer little visual appeal and few design options, vaults and coffered ceilings create interest and flair with little additional cost. Talk to your builder or truss supplier about constructing interesting ceiling conditions. The added volume created with trusses will enhance your sense of openness in a space. It’s a simple, inexpensive way to make a nice home look like a fine, upscale home.


Speed saws cut lumber to precise
Speed saws cut lumber to precise lengths for trusses.

For practical appeal, trusses offer more than just a sound structure. Roof trusses are professionally designed using computers and engineered for the snow, rain, and wind conditions where you live. They are built indoors, unaffected by the weather, using computer-controlled saws. The trusses then are bundled and shipped to job sites, ready to be set in place. Because trusses are custom designed for each home, the framers aren’t left to guess how the trusses go together—they fit perfectly every time.


Environmental Impact

In addition, the environmental impact of trusses will appeal to your green side. You can act locally and think globally because trusses use lumber wisely. Trusses are engineered using small lumber pieces, the majority being 2 x 4s, which work together to support the roof. These smaller pieces of lumber can be harvested from newer trees, leaving our precious old-growth forests alone.


Mother Earth thanks you!


The safety of your construction site also is an important consideration. Just as toys left on stairs create a dangerous situation, a clean jobsite is a safer jobsite. Because there is little or no waste with trusses, your clean-up and dumpster costs are significantly reduced. Additionally, because roof trusses go up quickly, your framers spend less time working at extreme heights, which means fewer opportunities for injuries.


Finally, what could be more practical than your building dollars? Because roof trusses install quickly, your construction timetable is reduced. If you have a construction loan (which always carries a rate higher than your normal mortgage) you will save here also.


That’s money you can put into your pocket — or use to upgrade your kitchen countertops!

Truss Structure in home.
Truss Structure in home


On a less pleasant financial note, jobsite theft in America in recent years was estimated at $1 billion. Availability and ease of access to job sites has created a market of professional thieves that are hard to guard against — and stolen materials can temporarily shut down your job. Roof trusses deter thieves from making off with your building materials because they are manufactured in specific shapes and lengths for your home. Trusses can’t be used in the same way as a bundle of 2 x 6s. And because roof trusses speed construction, your home will be closed in sooner, allowing other building materials to be placed inside and out of sight.


So, you see there is more to roof trusses than meets the eye. Virtually any roof can be built using them. Precision built for your home, trusses allow for interior changes both before and after construction, they offer the flexibility to create interesting ceilings economically, are good for the environment and contribute to a safe job site. They install quickly and are not prone to theft. Roof trusses are built to suit — and to last. You can’t ask for more than that.


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Updated: Friday, March 28, 2014 8:30 AM

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